Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale

Far from the perfect FFFVI orchestral soundtrack, but worth the attention of classical lovers and open-minded fans. Cautiously Recommended

Extended Audio Preview

Previewed Tracks

  • 00:00 Opening Theme ~ Terra
  • 03:20 Kefka
  • 05:19 The Mystic Forest
  • 08:21 Gau
  • 11:28 Milan de Chocobo
  • 13:32 Kids Run Trough the City Corner
  • 15:28 Blackjack
  • 17:22 Troops March On
  • 18:34 The Phantom Train
  • 19:53 Relm
  • 22:15 Aria di Mezzo Carattere

Artist Credits

Tracks

54 minutes total
  1. Opening Theme~Tina
  2. Cefca
  3. The Mystic Forest
  4. Gau
  5. Milan de Chocobo
  6. Troops March On
  7. Kids Run Through The City Corner
  8. Blackjack
  9. Relm
  10. Mistery Train
  11. Aria Di Mezzo Carattere
  • Released May 25, 1994 by Squaresoft (catalog no. PSCN-5004, retail 3000 yen).

Reviews

Far from the perfect FFFVI orchestral soundtrack, but worth the attention of classical lovers and open-minded fans.

Cautiously Recommended

Editor's review by Adam Corn (2014-11-05)

As widely adored as the original soundtrack to Final Fantasy VI is, its orchestral arranged album "Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale" might be to the same degree contentious. Some love it for its artistically accomplished, classically styled arrangements, some hate it - or at least are disappointed with it - for the liberties it takes from the original. My own feelings are firmly an equal mixture of both - the arrangements and performances are from an artistic standpoint very impressive, yet some of the deviations from the OST can be maddening.

There's nothing contentious about "Opening Theme ~ Terra" at least. Taking the already dramatic theme from the original soundtrack, the orchestral rendition here accomplishes perfectly what a great arrangement can do - bolster the instrumentation with a high-quality live performance and expand upon the theme with new material, all while staying true to the spirit of the original. The orchestra sounds fantastic, and the minute or two of newly composed material makes even clearer the imagery of a forlorn soldier marching through snow as the opening credits roll.

About half of the remaining arrangements similarly keep to the spirit of the original versions, while letting the orchestra work its innate magic. "The Mystic Forest" sounds gorgeous (far superior to the much plainer arrangement in recent FF orchestral albums), and the town theme "Kids Run Through The City Corner" is very pretty as well; both have minute-long original intros that nicely expand upon the originals. "Kefka" has more substantial changes, but as a crazed circus march still fairly closely resembles the original. And though the opera has been arranged more extensively and energetically in later albums (most memorably in Orchestral Game Concert 4), the vocal performance in "Aria di Mezzo Carattere" may still be the best of the lot.

The other half of the album has changes that will be hard for all but the most opening-minded FFVI fans to accept. "Gau" is a nicely done arrangement, but in losing the original's lead cello in favor of baroque violins and harpsichord, it also loses of huge amount of the original's poignancy. "Mystery Train" is another admirable artistic effort, but the arrangement's frantic violin-piano duo completely foregoes the spooky charm of the original. The most perplexing and infamous change, however, comes in "Relm", in which blaring lead bagpipes ruin what is otherwise an absolutely perfect, beautiful arrangement of the tender theme.

Despite some questionable departures in style from the original soundtrack, you have to credit the arrangers for having artistic vision when embellishing these compositions. It's by far the most classical of the Square-produced Final Fantasy arranged albums, and people who can appreciate that aspect I'm sure will enjoy it. Yet for every track that amplifies the narrative and dramatic qualities of the original themes, there's another that seems to disregard them altogether. The results are too mixed to consider the album an ideal Final Fantasy VI orchestral collection, but it's still an admirable artistic effort that fulfills its potential often enough to make it worth consideration.

A varied orchestral take on the music from a great game.

Reader review by John Faulconbridge (2000-12-31)

Back in '96, I, as most of you, played and was enthralled by the masterpiece that is Final Fantasy VI. The one thing that stuck out in my mind was the quality of the music. Now, four years later, I have had the opportunity to enjoy the orchestrated version of the music.

The music on this disc falls into five different categories: standard orchestral fare, chamber music, Henry Mancini, violin solo, and opera. The majority of the disc is standard orchestra, and these are the tracks that most everyone enjoys, with the exception of Relm's theme. Well, I suggest you take a listen to this version of the theme again, look past the bagpipes and hear the influence of our friend Johnny Williams on this. I almost expect the piano solo from E.T. to come soaring through during the bridge part. Now, not to bash this or anything, but, yes, the bagpipe is annoying.

Two of the tracks are chamber music. "Gau" and "Kids Run Through the City Corner" both have the same small string quintet and harpsichord feel, and they sound like a tribute to the music of Handel (or any baroque string music for that matter).

Now, I know that some of you don't like what they did to the Chocobo theme song, but I get the feeling that Nobuo was going for a Henry Mancini sound, making this more a "Baby Chocobo Walk"... incidentally, the closing notes the oboe plays at the end of "Blackjack", another song greatly influenced by Mancini, is actually taken straight from his "Baby Elephant Walk". While the opera track is the one most familiar to listeners of this album, I feel that the "Mystery Train" violin solo is the best on the album. The hurried piano accompaniment and the almost frantic violin line give a wonderful highlight to this great CD.

The classic OSV - wonderfully arranged for orchestra!

Reader review by Eric Steffens

Out of all the OSVs I have, Final Fantasy VI's has to be one of my all-time favorites. Putting this OSV on a such a pedestal has made me very critical of any arrangements of my beloved themes. Grand Finale begins with an explosive rendition of the "Opening Theme" and then beautifully goes into Tina's (Terra's) theme. Unlike some CDs the instrumention is very professionally done. The solo flute in Tina's theme has almost put me to tears for the sheer beauty. The strings and trumpet on "Cefka" keep that "evil vaudville" feel to the music. And who can not shudder at the powerful percussion in "Troops Move On". The "Aria" which closes the disc is very well done. And it's so cool to hear the Latin words match so well with the music and from what we remember from that scene in the game. All in all, I like the disc alot. Some of the arrangements are unusual and may take a little getting used to. If there is one reason to get the disc, get it for the "Opening Theme"!

Listen with an open mind - you'll like what you hear.

Reader review by Kevin Murphy

I think this is one of the better game music CD's I have purchased, and I think that it has gotten a rather bad rap. I can understand the bad rap though. Anyone could ask me, "How could you defend this? Listen to Relm's Theme and tell me that you like it!" Well, I do like everything but those bagpipes. So why are the bagpipes in there? Simple. It's meant to sound as close to the OSV as possible, and it does. Don't believe me? Well, I never liked the "instrument" in the OSV version of Relm's theme that sounded just like those bagpipes!! Listen for yourself.

I have also heard, "I don't like the Mystery Train because it has lost its waltzy feeling." Indeed it has. And, "The Chocobo theme is just plain boring." It is. But let's take a closer look and analyze a little bit here. With the Chocobo theme, they wanted to experiment and arrange something. Kind of "the melancholy Chocobo." I agree, the experiment failed. But I don't see how anyone cannot like "The Mystery Train"! This arrangement is chamber music, which is a rarity outside of the Ys series. Secondly, it is an *extremely* difficult piece. It's a miracle that the violinist and pianist can even keep up with each other. I urge all of you to listen to this one again. It's my favorite piece on the album.

Kefka's vaudevillian arrangement works perfectly. And of course, it has been stated that the album is worth getting just for the opening theme. As an aside, for anyone who liked the last track on the CD, do yourself a favor and get Orchestral Game Concert 4. As opposed to Grand Finale's shorter harpsichord-heavy opera track, OGC 4 has the *whole* Opera (all 23 minutes worth) with three different singers.

One thing that I want everyone to keep in mind is that with many Final Fantasy arranged compilations, there is the straight arrangement of the OSV, and then the different style. Keep that in mind while listening to this, and because you understand it more, you will probably have an enriched listening experience.

They should get a clue from Symphonic Suite.

Reader review by Aaron Lau

I'll keep this short.There are some great songs to be found here (as if there wouldn't). "Tina" is by far the best one here. "Cefca" is actually pretty good too, along with "Gau". The rest of the songs I didn't find much interest in. Grand Finale is a full orchestra performance, and it's done extremely well. The only thing wrong with it is that it's as boring as hell (!). I'm sure many will disagree with me, as it is Final Fantasy. It's just that there's too much filler. The songs get very inane, and this arranged soundtrack never keeps enough interest as the original did.

Great but still disappointing.

Reader review by John Lau

Final Fantasy VI - Grand Finale is a great disc. I am sure of that, but, it's a bit disappointing. The songs do not match the game from time to time. I don't really like that. The only songs that I considered enjoyable are the opening and "Troops March On". The others were okay, but not excellent. I have nothing better to say than this disc has its excellent points, but it has its weak points. I would say that 3000 yen was a tad too steep for this CD. I recommend it to anybody, but I'm not sure if everybody is willing to put out that much money for just a couple of excellent songs. All in all, it is a great disc, but I expected more.

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